By Jerome O’Connell Limerick Leader Sport
THE 121st Limerick SFC kicks off this Thursday evening with 12 clubs battling for the Fr Casey Cup.
A 35 game schedule is set out to conclude on October 15.
Monaleen enter the championship as holders and are the competition favourites
The Castletroy outfit are 11/4 favourites to retain the title, with two of the five group games to be played over the the next two weekends.
Once again managed by Muiris Gavin, Monaleen begin their campaign against Rathkeale in Clarina on Saturday. The men in red will be powered by Ger Collins, Brian Donovan, Donal O’Sullivan and Padraig Quinn, all who played with Limerick during the Allianz Football League campaign. Opponents Rathkeale are now being guided by Moss McCarthy.
There are two games on each on Thursday, Friday and Saturday – all at 7.00.
2015 champions Newcastle West play St Patricks on Friday in Mick Neville Park. The Rhebogue side could be without Eoin Hanrahan, who missed Pike Rovers’ Good Friday Munster Junior Cup semi final win over Fairview Rangers due to injury.
Inter-county hurler Gearoid Hegarty, Pa and Jason Mullins, Mark adn Gearoid Phelan and John Mullane are all key for the ‘Saints’, who are now coached by former Clare goalkeeper James Hanrahan, who was with Na Piarsaigh last season.
Newcastle West have new management with Kerry native Martin Horgan as coach with Joe Lee as manager.
Last year’s finalists Dromcollogher-Broadford play Na Piarsiagh in Askeaton on Thursday. This is a repeat of last year’s semi final, which the west Limericks side 1-9 to 0-9. Neil Conway was then joint-manager of his native Drom-Broadford, but is now coach to the Caherdavin club.
Newcomers Adare play Fr Caseys in Newcastle West on Thursday. 2016 Intermediate champions Adare are still under the guidance of Harry Gleeson and Joe Redington, while their Abbeyfeale opponents now have Ger O’Connor as manager.
On Friday, Ballysteen meet Oola in Mungret. The estuary side are unbeaten in the ACFL and have reached the West SFC Final. Paddy Ivess, Donal Moran and John Neville are guiding the fortunes of Ballysteen while Alan O’Mahony remains as Oola manager.
Their West SFC final opponents are St Kierans – they play 2014 winners Ballylanders in Bruff on Saturday. Mike Greaney, Noel Broderick, Kieran Madigan form the St Kierans management team, with Thomas Dillon coach. Ballylanders have Mike Fox as manager with Damien Lee as coach.
BETTING: Monaleen 11/4, Dromcollogher-Broadford 4/1, Newcastle West 4/1, St Patricks 5/1, Na Piarsaigh 7/1, Fr Caseys 8/1, Ballylanders 12/1, St Kierans 14/1, Ballysteen 20/1, Adare 20/1, Oola 20/1, Rathkeale 33/1.
Thursday April 20
Adare v Fr Caseys in Newcastle West at 7pm
Dromcollogher-Broadford v Na Piarsaigh in Askeaton at 7pm
Friday April 21
Ballysteen v Oola in Mungret at 7pm
Newcastle West v St Patrick’s in Mick Neville Park
Saturday April 22
Monaleen v Rathkeale in Clarina at 7pm
St Kierans v Ballylanders in Bruff at 7pm